In the Philippines in November it is time for a family party at the graveyards to celebrate the life of the beloved ones who have now passed on. Party through the night and make sure everyone remembers those who were important in the lives of so many.
In some places in Europe they used to celebrate All Saints Day on November 1 and All souls Day the next Day since Catholicism was prevalent in the old days. During the reformation period it became just a day that was November 1 and that has remained up to the presence. But the young people are slowly adopting the American tradition of Halloween or actually it was a European tradition since the Scottish and the Irish who brought that Halloween tradition to North America. This is making a Jack o Lantern where they carve a pumpkin and put a lantern or candle inside and while children wears different scary outfit like for example witches, vampires etc. This new tradition just started out in the 1990’s brought by watching American sitcoms or TV series. But this time is good time for the shops especially the Flower shops who sells flowers, candles, squash or pumpkins.
In the Philippines, All Souls’ Day is known as Araw ng mga Patay (literally meaning Day of the Dead). November 1st and 2nd are two of the most important days in the Filipino calendar. Those two days represent a celebration that has close ties to the Catholic Church and the Spanish occupation. The day of November 1st is All Saints Day and November 2nd is All Souls Day. These two days are marked for the remembrance of relatives that have passed on and the celebration of their lives. . During these day families take time to pray for the souls of the deceased and pay their respects. After all the hard work the family members eat a picnic style meal in the cemetery which is closer to a feast than a meal. There are usually people playing games, telling stories, and lots of kids around. The atmosphere is anything but somber since this is a celebration of the dead.
In the US, people ask you “What are you gonna be for Halloween?” But in the Philippines, people ask you “What time should we meet at the cemetery?”
Although there are some who actually celebrate Halloween in the Philippines by partying or getting dressed up in a costume, most people simply do so by staying at the cemetery for a few hours, or maybe even the whole day/night. And this goes on from the 31st of October, where people start visiting relatives who have passed away and cleaning their tombs, and goes all the way to 2ND of November, or more commonly known as All Saints’ Day. I think this is mainly because most Filipino families are Catholics and have been colonized by the Spaniards for over 300 hundred years, therefore this tradition is almost similar to the Mexican concept of the Day of the Dead.
The Christian tradition dates back to the ancient practice in Rome, which honours all saints and martyrs who died for the faith. All Souls’ Day, the day after, is often when those wanting to avoid the crowds of All Saints’ Day visit the cemeteries to pay their respects.
While the day of the dead is supposed to be solemn, Filipinos use it to plan family gatherings at the tombs, where drinking and even open-air karaoke singing sessions are held.
“It’s like an annual family reunion to remember our departed ones,” said 34-year-old housewife Mary Jane Mendoza, who went to the packed Barangka public cemetery to visit the tomb of her baby, who died last year from pulmonary illness.
“We’ve packed enough for a picnic for the whole day,” she said, as she and her four other children struggled through a maze of narrow pathways.
Barangka is one of several large public cemeteries across Manila. Tens of thousands of people were expected to visit it Friday.
The final resting places there, as in other public cemeteries across Manila, are called “apartment-type tombs” and are stacked on top of one another, reaching several feet high.
Mendoza, whose daughter’s grave is on top, had to make the perilous climb up the structure just to light a candle and say a simple prayer.
The Catholic Church, meanwhile, put up a special website for the millions of Filipino workers abroad who could not come home to visit the graves of their dead.
Found at www.undasonline.com, the site is operated by the country’s bishops and allows those unable to make it home to offer special prayers for their deceased.
Visitors to the site simply have to list the names of their loved ones, and click a “prayer request” button.
Priests in Manila can then say a prayer on their behalf free of charge.
“When we celebrate the day of the dead, we also celebrate life,” said Marcelino Cabrera, a retired shop keeper whose clan erected a sprawling tent in another cemetery.